Ripley's Game

Ripley's Game (1974) is a psychological thriller by Patricia Highsmith, the third in her series about the con artist and murderer Tom Ripley.

Ripley's Game
First edition (UK)
AuthorPatricia Highsmith
Cover artistGraham Miller
CountryUnited States
Genrecrime novel
PublisherHeinemann (UK) &
Random House (USA)
Publication date
11 March 1974 (UK)
May 1974 (US)[1]
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages288 pp
LC ClassPZ3.H53985 Rk5 PS3558.I366
Preceded byRipley Under Ground 
Followed byThe Boy Who Followed Ripley 

Plot summary

Tom Ripley continues enjoying his wealthy lifestyle in Villeperce, France, with his French wife, Heloise. He spends his days living comfortably in his house, Belle Ombre, until an associate, an American criminal named Reeves Minot, asks him if he can commit a murder for him. Ripley who "detest[s] murder, unless absolutely necessary" turns down the offer of $96,000 for the two hits, and Minot goes back to Hamburg, Germany.

The previous month, Ripley had gone to a party in Fontainebleau, where he was insulted by the host, Jonathan Trevanny, a poor British picture framer suffering from myeloid leukemia. As revenge, Ripley suggests to Minot that he might try to convince Trevanny to commit the two murders. To ensure that the plan will work, Ripley starts a rumor that Trevanny has only months to live, and suggests that Minot fabricate evidence that Trevanny's leukemia has worsened, though Minot does not. Trevanny, who fears his death will leave his wife and son destitute, accepts Minot's offer of a visit to a medical specialist in Hamburg. There, he is persuaded to commit a murder in exchange for money.

After carrying out the contract a shooting in a crowded U-bahn station Trevanny insists that he is through as a hired gun. Minot invites him to Munich, where he visits another doctor. Minot persuades Trevanny to kill a Mafia boss, this time on a train using either a garrotte or a gun. Trevanny reluctantly gives in and finds himself on the train. He resolves to shoot the mafioso and commit suicide before he can be caught, asking Minot to ensure that his wife gets the money. Before Trevanny can go through with it, however, Ripley who had started to feel responsible for getting Trevanny into the situation shows up and executes the mafioso himself. He asks Trevanny not to let Minot know that he has "assisted" with the assassination.

Trevanny's wife Simone discovers a Swiss bank book with a large sum in his name and starts to suspect that he is hiding something from her. She links the rumor about her husband's demise to Ripley and asks Trevanny to tell her how, exactly, he has been making so much money. Trevanny is unable to explain it to her and asks Ripley to help concoct a credible story. Ripley acknowledges his role in Trevanny's dilemma and promises to shepherd him through the ordeal. The Mafia becomes suspicious of Minot's involvement with the murders and bomb his house, prompting him to flee. Ripley begins to fear Mafia revenge when he receives a couple of suspicious phone calls. After sending Heloise and their housekeeper away, Ripley asks Trevanny to help him deal with any Mafia reprisals at Belle Ombre.

When two Mafia hitmen turn up at Belle Ombre, Ripley kills one and forces the other to phone his boss in Milan and say that Ripley is not the man they are after before being executed. Simone then shows up at the house demanding answers and discovers the corpses and is sent away in a taxi. Ripley and Trevanny drive to a remote village to burn the corpses in their own car. A few days later, Ripley visits Trevanny's house, where a quartet of Mafia gunmen appear. One of them opens fire on Ripley, but Trevanny steps in front of him and is mortally wounded; he dies in Ripley's car on the way to hospital. Ripley is unsure whether Trevanny's action was by accident or design.

A few months later, Ripley encounters Simone in Fontainebleau, and she spits at him. He realizes that Simone has accepted her husband's blood money, and in doing so has remained silent about her suspicions of Ripley's instigation of the entire affair.


In the New York Times, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt wrote that the novel "gets off to a very strong beginning" and described how he appreciated the plot once Ripley set it in motion and stood back. He concluded:[2]

But then, at the height of the climactic scene ... Miss Highsmith blows the whole thing. She decides to bring Tom Ripley back to center stage, and since there is no reason whatsoever for him to be there, she must force him on us implausibly. From that point on the pieces of her novel fall further and further apart, and by the end the whole business has gotten so silly that it is difficult to recall what got us interested in the first place.





  1. "Ripley's Game (Ripley, book 3) by Patricia Highsmith".
  2. Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher (July 25, 1974). "Maybe the Films Will Succeed" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved December 11, 2015.
  3. "The Talented Mr Ripley, The Complete Ripley - BBC Radio 4 Extra". BBC.
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